Boy becomes a man in long-awaited family umgidi

UMGIDI celebrates the end of a journey but also symbolises the start of a new one, says mother Sizeka Magwenthshu-Rensburg who celebrated her son’s homecoming at their Summerstrand home along with her husband Ihron Rensburg, University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor.
Her son Lizolethu, 18, was welcomed back home from initiation school as a man with song on December 27 after spending four weeks in the bush in former Transkei.
He matriculated at St John's College in Johannesburg, and has enrolled as a first year student studying B Soc Sc at the University of Cape Town.

"As a mother, it was hard to have my son away from me. You have mixed emotions – joy, fears and anxiety.

"It is a very emotional time because as a parent, it is not only your son that has been on this journey but you as well.
"Yes, umgidi is a celebration of a boy who has become a man. He has reached a milestone where he has to go into the world as a young man. He has to now take responsibility and play his part in shaping the world.
"Being around family on the umgidi helps a lot because we stand together in joy, in celebration and in prayer and this way you gather strength for the future.
"So, even though it is a time to celebrate, people should not forget the significance attached to that.
"During the time your boy is away, you have time to do a lot of introspection and you have to trust and pray that the values you have instilled in your child will not be forgotten.
"I know I cannot look at him in the same way any more but he is still my child.”
The celebration at their home in Tiren Street caused quite a commotion when firefighters were called to put out a blaze, which was in fact a fire on which they were preparing food. Sizeka said there were a few complaints from neighbours about the smoke but she had explained that they were having a traditional ceremony.
Among the close family and friends who welcomed the initiate back were prominent South Africans including soccer boss Danny Jordaan, former National Prosecuting Authority boss Vusi Pikoli, businessmen Saki Macozoma and Sipho Pityana, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber president Mandla Madwara and Khoi chiefs.